For kids, divorce often feels like their whole world is being torn in two. How you talk to your kids about your impending divorce can vary by how old your children are, your current living situation and the amount of animosity you and your ex have towards each other.
Older children should be given more time to process the news, so parents should try to talk to them about their split at least a month before you or your ex move out. If your children are much younger, waiting to tell them until a week or so before any significant changes happen is fine since toddlers have little understanding of divorce or time.
Divorce is painful when kids are involved, but there are still steps you can take to help your children cope with the transition. No matter their age, offering your kids your support, reassurance and a sense of security can make all the difference in easing the turmoil of divorce. Here are four guidelines parents can follow to break the news of divorce to their kids:
1. Tell them together
If possible, you should plan on having the divorce conversation when both parents can be present. Children, especially young ones, often have many questions about what this will mean for them. It will be better if you can both show up as a united front to answer them.
2. Timing is everything
When breaking the news of divorce, try to pick a date and time when no one has any prior commitments. For example, you don’t want to tell your kids about your divorce on the way to school. Choose a time when no one in the family will feel rushed.
3. Spare them the details
Don’t feel the need to get too detailed with your kids when explaining why you and your ex have decided to split. Keep your message concise and simple and ensure your children know while you still love them and care for one another, you no longer want to be married.
4. Don’t play the blame game
Even if tensions are high between you and your ex, you should both avoid blaming the other in front of your kids. You may wish to share more details with them later when they are older, but for now, you should focus on making sure they feel loved and supported.